Main Group: Aboard Horizon's Pride

 
Main Group: Aboard Horizon's Pride

No sooner do Artemis and Camael head off to secure their quarters than a man in the olive drab of the Cadian Guard regiments comes striding down the hall towards the rest of the Kill-team. He is a slight man, short even by the standards of a normal human, with a weathered face that shows no hint of juvenat treatment or other age defying vanity. The array of ribbons across his breast tells of a hard career at odds with his appearance; a Kasrkin, storm trooper trained, a veteran the Acheros Salient and its grinding battles. Though his days as a front line fighter are clearly behind him, he wears a laspistol on one hip and a chainsword on the other.

"My Lords Astartes." He clicks his heels together, snaps off a salute with precision that would bring tears to a Guard sergeant's eyes. "Brigadier Archibald Heth, at your service. Soon-to-be Ambassador-Martial to Aurum. In light of that, I can't say enough how pleased I am to see the Deathwatch has taken an interest. Planet's been a mess for decades." He chuckles ruefully.

"Well, my Lords, if you'd like I could show you around. I've been aboard long enough to find my way about fairly well. Or answer anything you'd like to know about our destination. I've been perusing the reports of my predecessor." He looks expectantly at the Battle-Brothers, clearly eager to assist in whatever way he is asked.

Brother Androcles

Androcles nodded respectfully to the Cadian soldier in greeting. Short of a space marine, a Cadian shock trooper was about as good as you could get amongst the soldiers of the Imperial Guard. That the Brigadier would come over himself to show them around instead of sending a lower level officer or functionary spoke measures of the man's character. He didn't seem the type to show up just to have a chance to gawk at a space marine, either. That he wore his weapons even shipboard said something, too. Androcles had not found a suitable place to store his own weapons, but he would carry at least his chainsword and bolt pistol at all times even if he had. There was something Androcles immediately liked about Archibald Heth.

"My thanks, Brigadier. I am Brother Androcles and this is Brother Eldgrim. Your assistance would be welcome." he replied. They needed to find a chapel, a place for battle drills, perhaps an armory or shrine sufficient to store their wargear, among other places, but he felt it would be rude to simply list them off as if Heth was some random naval shipman sent to jump to their every whim. He'd let the Brigadier set the order of the tour and they'd get around to hitting the important sections eventually. They had a month to learn the in's and out's of the Horizon's Pride after all and Androcles wanted to get to know the people they'd be working with.

"Will you be taking command of the Guard regiment on the planet, Brigadier Heth?" he asked, attempting to smoothly start the man off as they walked.

Eldgrim returned the Brigadier's salute with a fist clapped over his heart. "More than welcome; the only times I've ever been able to find my way around a starship have been when it's being boarded." Eldgrim had an easier time reading the Brigadier than he did Lan - though it helped that the man was a fellow soldier.

Heth chuckles at Eldgrim's phrasing. "Indeed. I often find the shortest distance between two points is a melta bomb through a bulkhead." He beckons the marines to follow. "I would imagine you'd be keen to see the training area first. It's not proper Space Marine chapel, but Trader Lan has played host to enough Astartes to see that it is properly equipped for your exercise."

They start down a side corridor, narrower than the first, but still wide enough for three marines in armor to walk side by side. Heth strides a pace ahead. At Androcles' query, he smiles. "Indeed I will. If you can call a dozen or so Guardsmen in a native bunkhouse a regiment."

He sighs. "The Crusade has its needs, all of them elsewhere. Even if there were the manpower to spare, the natives would not take kindly to such a large force. They are a martial people, and no doubt they'd see such a contingent as an insult towards their prowess. Counterproductive towards our goals. We want the natives peacefully assimilated, willing to join the Imperial Guard and the like."

At a dead end, Heth smacks a palm lock, opening a massive freight elevator. The group shuffles in and then it begins a long, rattling descent.

"That is the crux of the problem, indeed. The Aurans follow strength. Their Caele, Rylus Darkstar, won his throne through skill at arms, not by blood. Or at least, not by his blood, I should say. So he's not particularly impressed by us." Heth taps the hilt of his chainsword as emphasis. "In truth, my Lords, like as not you are the best chance to convince the Caele that the Imperium has the prowess to rule his people. At the very least, you all are taller than the average Auran."

The elevator shudders to a stop and the doors grind open. From the unadorned walls and heavy steel construction, you are clearly in the bowels of the ship. "We are a long way from planetfall, of course, but do you have a plan for bringing the Aurans to heel? Obviously we cannot be certain of anything until we are on the ground, but if my men or I can assist in any way. . ."

"I think we will just play it by ear at first - see what the people are like before settling on a plan. I suppose we have an advantage in that they're a warrior culture. I can understand why they are refusing our help - you cannot make a son of Fenris accept help he has not asked for, I imagine the Aurans are the same."

"Now isn't that a truism, brother," Ydnar said, approaching the group from behind with a wide grin. His subtle mechanical eye glinted as he moved. Lither than his brothers, he never-the-less towered over the Guardsman, yet the grace he moved with was truly remarkable. He was a pathfinder, to be sure, as evidenced by his gait alone.

"Personally, I would hope that this little problem they're having is xenos related," he said, "I have gone too long without the snap of an Eldar neck."

Heth winces briefly at Ydnar's mention of the Eldar, but nods. "You'll forgive me if I'm not so hopeful for a confrontation, my Lord, but I fear that you're right. Something is lurking on Aurum, that much is certain. I can only say I will sleep easier knowing that the Deathwatch is on the task."

As you walk down the corridor, a voice crackles over the ship's intercom: "Attention: Warp entry in t-minus ten seconds." It slowly counts down, and at zero the familiar skin tightening sensation passes through the group. Heth shivers a bit.

"I never get used to that. Just this way, my Lords." When Heth opens the door, the air is filled with the crack of lasgun fire. A squad of Lan's troopers stand in firing lane. As Heth promised, the range is large, plenty of space for bolter drill, with the holographic terrain of a thick jungle projected out into the distance. Targets flit in and out from behind the quivering trees. A lantern jawed sergeant stands behind the squad, arms across his chest, glowering at the men under his charge.

"Will this be sufficient, my Lords?" Heth says, shouting to be heard over the din, though with their superhuman hearing the Space Marines have no difficulty picking out his words even if he whispered them.

Brother Androcles

"It is sufficient, Brigadier Heth." Androcles said, nodding along with his words in case the man couldn't hear him. He studied the the troopers on the practice range for a moment, noting the levels of their accuracy and efficiency, as well as the reactions of the sergeant with the strong jaw. It gave him something else to think about instead of the hellish miasma outside the ship. As many times as he had made the journey into the Warp on the warships of his Chapter and those of the Imperial Navy, Androcles had to admit that the idea of it still put him on edge. He focused on a silent prayer of thanks to the Emperor for being their guiding light through the realm of ghosts and daemons.

"As for the Aurans, I suspect that we will have to gain their respect by a show of strength and prowess and move forward from there. Though if all else fails I suppose one of us could just best their Caele in a duel...but that may cause more complications than we would want." he rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Once we have their full cooperation, it will be easier to search out this xenos threat."

The troopers seem fairly accurate and precise to Androcles, as much as would be expected from a well drilled Guard regiment. Their sergeant, however, does not seem quite so satisfied, his expression becoming more and more dour with each missed shot. The last few shots rattle off and the squad turns to face the sergeant.

"Unacceptable," he says simply. "Do it again."

While the squad goes about replacing power packs and the range resets, Heth turns to Androcles. "A duel directly with the Caele would likely, as you say, raise further complications. But there are rituals and provings to be undertaken that may be enough to win their trust. Trader Lan attempted to gain their cooperation that way a few years ago by participating in some kind of gladiatorial games, and nearly paid for it with his life."

"Well I guess we cannot fault the captain for his bravery now. Common sense, on the other hand..." Eldgrim joked, although he was sure his grin would've been a touch off-putting to the Brigadier, if only because of the fangs. "Still - if the Aurans have organised rituals and such then it'll save us a lot of work."




 

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